October 19, 2008


Got back from the wedding to find P and Lola, not exactly in separate beds - the celebrations continued overnight - but in separate rooms and as far apart as possible. P in his tiny office at the rear of the apartment and Lola on the terrace at the front. Both seemed somewhat subdued - unusually so for Lola, a boisterous and unashamed flirt at the best of times. Now, though, she didn’t show any of her former enthusiasm to go for a run and meet like-minded bichon frises particularly after being cooped up for so long but merely allowed herself to be scooped up by Sra N. and whisked back to her apartment.

She was so restrained I wondered if P might have added something to her food bowl. This he vehemently denied, attributing her "calmness", as he put it, to the restful night she’d spent in her basket on the terrace - undisturbed by him. After all, I was fully aware, wasn’t I, that any close contact with dog hair made his eyes stream? So this arrangement had worked out best for both parties. He’d been able to get on with his work - he works from home - and Lola had managed to catch up on some overdue beauty sleep.

I didn't want to belabour the point for a number of reasons. Firstly, since P had done me the favour of dog-sitting so that I’d be free to take Sra N to the wedding and meet the love of her life. Secondly, since there is another issue between us, cropping up with increasing frequency of late. Namely that he wants to stay here indefinitely whilst I’m more ambivalent. Much more ambivalent. Let me explain.

Since P can work from home via the internet anywhere in the world, he settles down with extreme ease wherever he happens to be - in Andalucia now just as easily as in LA years ago. Moreover, he’s not as close to his family as I am to mine. When we lived in California, we rarely saw his relatives directly due north in Canada whereas I have a need to visit my frail, elderly mother in north Wales at regular intervals.

In addition to my family, I also miss the variety and buzz of London’s theatres, concerts, galleries and restaurants. Whilst I wouldn’t go so far as to say the only culture here is the one growing in a tub of yoghurt, there is a definite lack of London’s urbaneness, cosmopolitanism, sophistication. But then, Andalucia isn’t Madrid. It’s provincial because it is, after all, a province. Not a metropolitan juggernaut.

The British sense of humour and fair play is another aspect of life I miss. I realise this sounds like a deeply rose-tinted view of the UK which, I am only too aware, has huge problems all of its own. However, when you open a newspaper here and read about yet another mayor or high-ranking official arrested for corruption, you start to ask yourself when is it all going to end. And the answer is always the same: not for a couple of generations. So ingrained is the culture in local life.

The newly installed Mayor of Marbella, Angela Munoz, and her team are gamely trying to root out the corruption that still remains in local government. However, the layer at the top is moving in one direction and the layer at the the bottom in the opposite, both consequently in constant collision with each other. With the result that no permanent change will occur until the old guard, the ancien regime, passes on.

This tension between the two forces seems to me like a shift in the Andalusian tectonic plates. A bit like the current shift in the tectonic plates between P and myself too. But I’ll come back to that - and corruption - in a later post. And more, too, about that wedding and Snr. N…

Now though I’ve got to prepare for my imminent Spanish lessons - the first for a week - with Jesús. (Yes, that really is his name. and not at all uncommon here.) Last Saturday, he telephoned all class members to say that, in addition to the cancellation of Monday’s class because it was Columbus Day, there wouldn’t be any further classes last week because "everyone would be attending the local fiestas". By "everyone", he was of course referring to himself. Ah, such is life in Spain…

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